Quarterback Alex Smith has done everything asked of him while the 49ers' power-running game has done much of the heavy-lifting on offense.Special teams have performed at a high level from the opening game, whether it was Ted Ginn's returns, the legs of David Akers and Andy Lee or the coverage units.But the biggest on-field reason the 49ers made it to the bye week with a 5-1 record might be their run defense. With one of the best front-sevens in the NFL, the 49ers have neutralized each opponent's top running back.
The 49ers rank second in the NFL, surrendering just 74.7 yards on the ground per game. They are the only team in the league that has yet to give up a rushing touchdown.The 49ers shut down Marshawn Lynch (Seahawks), Felix Jones (Cowboys), Cedric Benson (Bengals), LeSean McCoy (Eagles), LeGarrette Blount (Buccaneers) and Jahvid Best (Lions) in the first six games. They took those running backs out of the game -- literally, most of the time.
Against the 49ers, those players combined for 70 rushing attempts for 211 yards (3.01 yards average). Against all other opponents, those same running backs have carried a combined 435 times for 2,028 yards (4.66 average) and 16 touchdowns.Week 1 vs. Seattle: Lynch carried 13 times for 33 yards and did not touch the ball in the fourth quarter.Week 2 vs. Dallas: Jones sustained a shoulder injury on linebacker Patrick Willis' tackle in the first quarter. He rushed nine times for 25 yards.Week 3 at Cincinnati: Benson gained 64 yards on 17 carries and did not touch the ball for the final 10 minutes of the game.Week 4 at Philadelphia: McCoy was shaken up while trying to pick up Ray McDonald on a blitz. He returned and finished with 18 yards on nine carries, but he did not touch the ball for the final 9:30 of the game.Week 5 vs. Tampa Bay: Blount gained 34 yards on 10 rushing attempts and did not return after sustaining a hamstring injury when safety Dashon Goldson upended him with a third-quarter tackle.
Week 6 at Detroit: Best gained 37 yards on 12 rushing attempts and did not play in the final 10 minutes of the game after sustaining a concussion.
ASHBURN, Va. — Washington turned to internal candidates to fill two critical vacancies, promoting Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator and Greg Manusky to defensive coordinator.
Cavanaugh was the team's quarterbacks coach and Manusky its outside linebackers coach last season. Washington announced the promotions Monday along with the hires of Kevin O'Connell as quarterbacks coach and Jim Tomsula as defensive line coach.
It has been an offseason of upheaval for the coaching staff after Washington fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry and a few assistants and offensive coordinator Sean McVay left to become head coach of the Los Angeles Rams.
In its efforts to replace Barry after ranking 28th defensively in consecutive seasons, Washington interviewed former Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, former Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine and former Buffalo Bills assistant Rob Ryan before opting for Manusky. The 50-year-old Manusky has been defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers and 49ers and worked with Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan in San Francisco.
Known for his fiery personality and booming voice on the practice fields, Manusky had only been on coach Jay Gruden's staff for one season as outside linebackers coach. Middle linebacker Will Compton tweeted: "Congrats to Coach Manusky!" when players were informed of his promotion.
Cavanaugh was Washington's quarterbacks coach for the past two years as Kirk Cousins twice set the franchise record for passing yards in a season. Cousins' status for 2017 remains in doubt after playing last season on the franchise tag, but with McVay gone he'll have a familiar face as his offensive coordinator.
After 13 NFL seasons as a backup quarterback, the 60-year-old Cavanaugh was offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears from 1997-98 and Baltimore Ravens from 1999-2004. O'Connell, Washington's new quarterbacks coach, was an assistant in San Francisco under Chip Kelly last season.
Tomsula, who replaces Robb Akey as defensive line coach, also most recently worked with the 49ers as their head coach in 2015.
The Atlanta Falcons have provided the 49ers with a window from Friday afternoon through Saturday to meet with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, a source told CSNBayArea.com.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn has structured a normal work week to begin preparations to face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51, Quinn said at a press conference on Monday. The Falcons will have a day off on Saturday before the team travels to Houston on Sunday.
The 49ers are not allowed to officially hire Shanahan until after the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.
Shanahan is the presumptive 49ers coach -- the only candidate remaining among the six whom 49ers executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe interviewed. Shanahan's offense rolled up 493 total yards and converted 10 of 13 (77 percent) third-down opportunities en route to a 44-21 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the NFC Championship game.
“I’m really proud of him,” said Quinn, who was hired by the Falcons two years ago after he served as Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator in Super Bowl 49.
“It’s not easy to do when there’s a lot of speculation and things going on outside your world to stay dialed in. I think it’s one that should be commended. Being on point and going for it, he totally nailed that.”
Shanahan is also expected to be heavily involved in the 49ers’ search for a general manager. The two remaining candidates among the nine who previously interviewed are Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton and Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough.
The 49ers have left open the possibility of adding more GM candidates to the list, according to a source.